Reel Sex

Woosh! You hear that sound? That’s the air finally making its way back into my brain after 10 days of the taco-eating, famous people elbow-rubbing, beer-chugging, and back-to-back movie-watching one happens to experience at South by Southwest. I’m sure you’ve been reading the Rejects’s extensive coverage of the all-encompassing festival of exhaustion (even I have some opinions to share shortly), and have been living a bit vicariously through each of us. Let me tell you now, it was just as great as you would imagine. Being a Texas native, SXSW is one of my absolute favorite film festivals, and I’m lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to watch it grow to some pretty epic proportions over the past eight years.

SXSW Film prides itself on having a bountiful lineup of films from the tiny directorial debuts to the star-laden big budget features audiences stand in line for over two hours to see. While it does succeed at being a taste marker for new talent, the festival does have a tendency to execute lackluster panels. Of course, this isn’t a huge priority for the over 20,000 people attending, but for a lady obsessed with sex-positivity in cinema I have to admit I was over the moon thrilled when I discovered the fest had finally booked a sexy-time movie panel. Brought together by the fabulous Lisa Vandever, director of the all erotica film festival Cinekink, the “Bringing Sexy Back: Where’s the Line Today?” panel introduced me to a pair of directors who I all but jumped over the front panel desk to chat with.

Julie Keck and Jessica King have been partners in crime for years, working on both narrative and documentary feature films with their production company King is a Fink. In 2009, they decided to dip their toes into shorts to creative sex-positive shorts that filled the gap they found so vast in modern films between pornography and mainstream fantasy sex. Keck and King wanted to ask questions, of course, but also provide their niche audience with films that went beyond black and white portrayals of sex, and introduce sex as something that was fun, full of humor, and of course sexy as all get out.

Thankfully, the ladies were willing to hold off filing charges against me when I bum-rushed them and agreed to chat with me over coffee at the Austin Convention Center.

Where did your interest in dealing with sex on film come from?

Jessica: We were inspired after we watched a gay porno that scared the shit out of us. And we started making series of five movies about this group of porn star friends and what they did in their down time. It was kind of weird stuff though. Like, one of them became a nero-psychologist eventual, one of them became a comedienne who then had to deal with transition careers. But along with what was going on in their lives we explored things that were hard to process, primarily how porn depicts sex.

There’s lots of talk about pornographic sex being like an athletic event, that they are feats of strength and endurance, so that actually became a lot of the jokes in the early series. It allowed us to process our curiosity and our anxiety around those things. As a woman especially, those things bring up questions. Taking that physical endurance and putting it into pornography just made us both say ‘no!’

Julie: It’s like if you watch too many of those movies, you never really get a chance to discover what you really like. Or even act out different types of fantasies. You watch them and you start to believe that’s what girls want or what guys want, but where’s the creativity?

So from the initial series you then started making your series Kinky Cuties…?

Jessica: We had been exploring and trying to wrap our brains around what was happening in pornography but then also realizing that young people see this stuff, often as sex education. So the Kinky Cutie is the antidote to all of that.

Are you hoping they might be seen as educational in a way?

Jessica: Well, they are not educational, but they are more to be joyful and playful. You might see something and think ‘that looks fun,’ but we talk more about them being inspirational. I mean, it’s not porn and it’s not just a romantic comedy. It’s somewhere in the middle. Something that straight couples or whatever kinds of couples can watch together, there’s enough sex for the guy to be interested and enough other stuff for the girl to be interested. And we shouldn’t forget that both sexes are interested in the other’s thing as well. Something they can watch together and then maybe have a little fun after.

I loved the Tooshie Smooshie clip you showed during the panel. I swear, if I had a boyfriend I would make him do that…

Jessica: That one especially taps into those things that you might have thought was sex when you were a kid. There were these things that you would get yelled at for doing or you saw somewhere and just turned into this thing that it’s not. So what happens when you carry that into your adult life. We wanted something more than spanking…

Julie: Because all kids do little erotic things…

Jessica: I know I did when I was a kid. So we just wanted to see what would happen if two adults re-enacted something like that from childhood. Because that’s what we forget! I remember all those feelings of being a kid and learning about sex and it was a little terrifying and a little exciting and fun too.

Do you ever worry that you won’t want to talk about sex in your movies anymore?

Jessica: The Kinky Cuties are little and just a small part of our entire body of work. We’re actually doing something about neuroscience right now. We get to talk about a lot of things. But we like doing these on the side.

For more information about Jessica King and Julie Keck, visit King is a Fink. Watch their shorts (alone or with a friend!)

Get hot and bothered with more Reel Sex


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